SC asks Lokpal search panel to shortlist names by Feb

SC asks Lokpal search panel to shortlist names by Feb

A bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre to provide the search committee with the requisite infrastructure and manpower to enable it to complete its work. (PTI File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Lokpal search panel headed by former top court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai to shortlist names by the end of February for appointment to the post of anti-corruption ombudsman.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjay Kishan Kaul told the Union government to provide all requisite infrastructure, secretariat staff, manpower to facilitate the search panel hold its deliberations.

The court noted with displeasure that the search committee did not undertake any deliberations until Wednesday.

Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted that there were various difficulties including lack of office, secretariat staff etc. "I will ensure that these facilities would be provided within two weeks, if directions are issued by the court," he said.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, arguing for NGO 'Common Cause', submitted that the court should issue directions to the search panel to make public minutes of its meetings as it must be disclosed who were the names discussed or shortlisted to the post.

On this, the court said, "We have already given the timeline." "On March 7, the next date of hearing, we will provide you with the names shortlisted by them," the bench said.

"Don't look at the things negatively. The world would be a better place to live if you look at the things positively," the bench told Bhushan.

"At least, I should know what is happening,' Bhushan said.

"You know more than anybody including even judges as to what is happening in the country," the bench added.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 got the assent from President on January 1, 2014. It was notified on January 16, 2014.

The selection panel for the Lokpal comprised the Prime Minister, CJI, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition and an eminent jurist.

However, leader of the largest party in Lok Sabha, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had refused to participate in the meeting.